Plagiarism and Academic Integrity Essay
Peer pressure, time management, pressure to succeed, how to overcome plagiarism.
Plagiarism is referred to as literary theft and academic dishonesty, which usually occurs when someone copies the work, ideas and opinions of another author and expresses them as though they are his own without giving credit to the originator. It is very common among higher learning academicians especially when doing write ups for their projects, term papers or thesis.
Plagiarism is a very serious offence and it can attract penalties since copyright takes authors words as his own property and the author has rights to sue in the court of law in case of plagiarism. Plagiarizing not only involves written materials but also piracy in music and other properties.
On the other hand academic integrity refer to a situation whereby students in higher learning institution hold highly on the moral values academics and do their work honestly without cheating (Drinan and Gallant, 2010). It encourages acts of independent learning and critical thinking (White, Owens, and Nguyen 2007).
To maintain academic integrity, academicians should avoid acts of dishonesty, cheating, plagiarism among others. Institutions of higher learning should encourage academic integrity since it really helps students to develop academically and it makes it easy for them to face all kinds of challenges in their area of study.
Academicians give several reasons for plagiarizing some of which include: to help a friend, time pressure, extenuating circumstances, peer pressure, to increase the mark, monetary reward, fear of failure, everybody does it, laziness, lack of research skills, institution admission criteria, poor academic skills, student understanding of plagiarism, external pressure to succeed, careless tutors and invigilators, among others (Devlin and Gray, 2007).
Other reasons may be the advanced technology where by information is readily available online, financial problems where the student cannot afford resource materials, and low chance of being caught. Let us look at some of these reasons in details.
The following essay will show clearly what academic integrity entails, the reason behind plagiarism and how academicians may overcome it to maintain academic integrity.
Peer pressure is a very common scenario in many learning institutions and many students are not able to curb the challenge effectively (Devlin and Gray, 2007). International students are likely to fall to peer-pressure than local ones since they may be seeking comfort and friendship in a place far away from home where they are not familiar with most places and lifestyle. Peer pressure maybe as a result of several factors.
For example, a student may be working very hard to do an assignment honestly but on realizing that most of her classmates are plagiarizing, he/she may prone to do it too. In other instances, the local students in to adventure and having fun may easily influence international students and since they are new to the environment, they may have fun at the expense of the assignment leading to plagiarizing (Vermaat, 2008, Peer, 2009).
International students in higher learning institutions are usually involved in many activities such as jobs, family responsibilities and may be having many units to cover. This is because most of them are usually far away from their families thus they have to cater for their basic needs as they learn.
For instance, most of the international students in the institutions of higher learning do their studies part time after their usual economic businesses. Others are obsessed with having fun leaving very little time for their academic activities while some are generally lazy (Devlin and Gray, 2007).
Due to their big workload, they ought to have a very clear schedule for their activities. The ability of a student to manage his/her time well in college is a key to his/her success. Most of the research papers in higher learning institutions are meant to gauge the student qualification for the area he/she may be covering thus requires ample time.
Plagiarism in this case may be accelerated by procrastination whereby the student keeps on pushing the time to work on his paper until he/she is caught up with the deadline (UNSW, 2010). When students are caught up with the deadline, they are prone to panic and are therefore not able to concentrate or do enough research for their paper. They may end up getting involved in plagiarism to save the situation.
Most international students find it hard to adopt the new curriculum and may not be keen on giving enough time to their research paper because of the advanced technology. They know that they can still get the information from the internet or other books thus being reluctant.
They may also be going through financial strain as they adapt to the new lifestyle or because their guardians are far away thus looking for means to support themselves as they do their studies. This may lead them to poor time management since the job may be draining most of their time leaving them with very little time for their research paper.
Whenever a student joins any institution of higher learning, failing is never an option and the mission right from day one is to get the best grades possible. The pressure may even be more for international students since it takes some so much sacrifice and strain to seek better education at international institutions.
Pressure to succeed and fear of failure is perceived form all direction. For instance, the parents will always be proud of their child if he/she succeeds, the college always sets pass mark giving a student pressure to pass, whoever is learning also gets satisfaction and fulfillment after succeeding, the job market first absorbs the successful students, and in essence pressure to succeed comes from all direction (Sutherland-Smith, 2008)
The education system is so materialistic in a manner that there is always a reward for the successful student and therefore the student will take every action that will help him/her succeed. In this case, whenever a student is given any form of assignment, chances of plagiarism are so high since he/she to present the best work possible.
Through plagiarism, a student is assured of a better grade without putting so much effort or thinking too hard. Some students may be promised monetary gains in case of success while others may be lazy and want to get away with a good grade without sacrificing a lot. Other students may be taking courses they have a negative attitude towards, of which they have to pass thus making them prone to plagiarism (Devlin and Gray, 2007).
This mostly happens to international students when they realize hat most of their areas of study are different from what they were used to at home. This is probably because they do not understand the concept behind their area of study or else, there are just interested in passing to leave the area and do something of their interest. This comes about when students make uninformed decisions when choosing their area of study or guardians force them in to a certain profession.
Institutions of higher learning can only curb the problem of plagiarism by fostering academic integrity, which is composed of the following principles (Drinan and Gallant, 2010): Honesty- The students and tutors should have a driving force to be honest in learning, research and in exams.
Honesty gives a student satisfaction and fulfillment on the grades achieved, enabling him/her to identify and work on his/her weak areas. For international students who may be facing challenges adapting to the new system, it is advisable to develop interest to learn and create more time in order to understand the concept.
Trust: Institutions of higher learning and their students should create an atmosphere of trust where by none of them is afraid that the other may be dishonest in one way or the other. This will minimize cases of peer pressure whereby some honest student are forced to copy since everyone in class is doing it. This way, they are able to exchange ideas freely and they can help each other build well on their research and writing talents.
Fairness: Tutors should always develop an attitude of fairness to their student’s right from the beginning whether they are local or international. They should be keen to encourage the honest students by rewarding their hard work well and putting strict measures to those caught with cases of dishonesty.
Many institutions have come up with means of capturing cases of academic dishonesty such as CCTV in exam rooms, software to detect digital plagiarism and this has encouraged student to work on their own thus getting fair rewards. Tutors should also be fair when marking papers in order to raise the morale of their students and should create a conducive environment for the international students to learn (Keuskamp and Sliuzas, 2007)
Respect: Academicians should hold the value of education dearly and with a lot of respect. Every credit in this field should be worked for and held with much integrity since it should be an evidence of the efforts the bearer has put towards its achievement. In this case students should manage their time carefully and this will enable them manage the pressure to pass without straining. It is therefore important to hold on to academic integrity and avoid cases of academic dishonesty.
Responsibility: Institutions of higher learning are meant to nature a spirit of responsibility not only in college but also in their day-to-day life. This should begin right from college where students should be responsible of their research papers by working hard without depending on other author’s materials. They should be taught the importance of time management and independence Local and international students should know the institutions mission right from the beginning in to work towards it.
Apart from the above principles of academic integrity, researchers should ensure that any information retrieved from another persons work is properly cited and references given. This can only be possible if the institution can facilitate on writing skills from the beginning of course work because many students get hardships when doing their write-ups due to lack of proper prior information.
Another way of overcoming plagiarism is through extensive discussions about it between the staff and the students in order to bring the issue to the light. This is because plagiarism has been hidden for many days through assumption that it is not a very serious issue. This leads many students to taking the issue lightly since they do not know much about plagiarism.
This is what leads to unintentional plagiarism since the student may think it is okay since no one talks about it. The staff should hole sessions with the students on time management and they way to live independently without much influence from the peers.
Academic integrity go hand in hand with plagiarism since for the former to operate, the latter should be totally avoided. When academic integrity is not upheld, it undermines the core values through which knowledge is obtained thus damaging the reputation of the larger academic community.
I would recommend that writing skills to be included in every curriculum as a common unit to give learners ample knowledge on how to learn independently and involve critical thinking whenever they are carrying out their assignments. It should be clear that plagiarism is a very serious offence, which should be discouraged in every institution. This is because most tutors and students have had a mentality that plagiarism is just one simple way of accomplishing their course of duty.
Barrier, J. & Presti, D. (2000). Digital plagiarisms . Web.
Devlin, M. & Gray, K. (2007). A qualitative study of the Reasons Australian university students plagiarize. Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne. Web.
Drinan, P. & Gallant, T. (2010), Student Conduct Practice . Virginia : Stylus Publishing. Web.
Keuskamp, D. & Sliuzas, R. (2007). Plagiarism prevention or detection? The contribution of text-matching software to education about academic integrity. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 91-A99. Web.
Peer pressure and plagiarism. (2009). Peer pressure and plagiarism . Web.
Sutherland-Smith, W. (2008). Plagiarism, the Internet, and Students learning . NY, Routledge. Web.
The University of New South Wales. (2010). How Does Plagiarism Happen? Web.
Vermaat, S. (2008). Discovering Computers 2009: Introductory . Cengage Learning. Web.
White, F., Owens, C. & Nguyen, M. (2007). Using a constructive feedback approach to effectively reduce student plagiarism among first-year psychology students . Web.
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- Plagiarism: For and Against
- Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It
- What Is Plagiarism and Why Is It Wrong?
- Plagiarism Problem in Higher Education
- Academic Integrity: Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty
- Plagiarism is Morally Reprehensible
- Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
- The Price of the Plagiarism
- Plagiarism Effects in Academic Institutions and Workplace
- Plagiarism Effects and Strategies
- Tips to Create an Effective Headline
- How to Write a Research Paper
- Elements of a Typical College Paper
- Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods
- Ways to Free Your Creativity in Writing
Essay Writing & Academic Honesty
Plagiarism is a serious offence and is dealt with strictly in this School. It refers to the passing off of another person’s work as your own. It includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Using an entire paper written by someone else as your own.
- Taking sentences or paragraphs from other papers or texts and including them in your paper without placing quotation marks around them, together with the source, including page numbers. (While exact quotations of lines or paragraphs are usually appropriate within a paper, they should take up no more than a very small percentage of the entire paper.).
- Paraphrasing lines or paragraphs from another paper or text without attributing the source of the ideas through use of references.
- Handing in the same or a very similar paper to two separate courses also constitutes an academic offence.
Most students who plagiarize do so because they try to write their essays at the last minute. Good essay writing requires time. If students cannot get their work in on time, they should approach their professors for an extension.
Please note the following:
- Familiar yourself with the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty
- Test your knowledge of plagiarism and academic integrity with this online tutorial .
- Students found guilty of such an infraction may have a permanent record of their receiving an “F” placed on their transcripts.
- This “F” would remain on record even if the course is repeated and an additional course grade is received and recorded.
- It will be clear to any reader of the transcript that the background to receiving an “F” being placed on a transcript in such a manner is one of academic dishonesty.
- You not only jeopardize your passing of this course but you also may jeopardize your entire future by engaging in academic dishonesty.
How to Write an Argumentative Essay
The following outline attempts to show you how to construct a good essay: it represents, in as simple a form as possible, the basic pattern to follow in putting together any “argument paper” whether this paper is a class essay, a dissertation, or an article designed for publication. An “argument paper” is best defined simply as a paper which states a thesis, or says something, and attempts to back up or support this thesis with evidence or arguments which tend to convince the reader of the truth and validity of this thesis; this kind of paper, we may say, is distinct from the kind of paper which merely presents information. (Also, the argument paper is more interesting, both to write and to read). These instructions are presented in outline form merely to make it more apparent that a good essay is put together step by step. If you are writing outside of class you will be able to follow this outline at your leisure; if you are writing in class, or answering an essay question on an exam, you still should mentally follow this outline to construct your essay before you start to write.
Form a good, strong thesis sentence, stating what you propose to show.
This is the most important part of the whole process, the foundation upon which your whole essay is constructed, and it must be the first thing done; until you have written the thesis sentence it is useless to try writing anything else. Given a topic, assemble your material and review it (mentally if in class or during an exam) until you are familiar enough with this material to form an opinion or judgment about your topic. This opinion or judgment is the stand you are taking on this particular topic and it will be the conclusion which your entire essay will try to establish and support. This is your thesis sentence; and this is why the thesis sentence has to come first when you start to construct an essay.
- Build your argument to support this thesis sentence. Return to your assembled material. Go through it again, and this time copy down every argument, every bit of evidence, or every reason you can find in it which will support your conclusion. After you have done this you should be able to tell whether your conclusion is valid or not. If you cannot find enough support to convince you yourself of the validity of your own conclusion, you should discard your thesis sentence and form a new one. Never attempt to argue on behalf of something which you yourself do not believe; if you do, your paper will not be any good.
- Arrange your argument to produce the maximum effect upon the reader. Go through the evidence on separate arguments you have copied down and arrange them in the order of their strength. Usually it is best to start with the weakest and end with the strongest; this arrangement is not always possible, but when it can be done your argument will accumulate more force as it progresses. If this type of arrangement cannot be used, merely arrange the arguments in the order in which they will appear in your paper. Along with each argument, list any contrary arguments. You must state these fully and fairly, but show that on balance your viewpoint is to be favoured. If you ignore them, your essay will be weak, one-sided and unconvincing.
- Write your outline. Begin with the thesis sentence. Always write complete sentences. A brief introduction is needed if any questions or terms have to be defined before you start your argument; otherwise it is optional. Roman numeral “I” will be the first argument or reason in support of your conclusion. Roman numeral “II” will be the second argument – and so on – as you have already arranged these arguments in order. Just as the Roman numeral entries must support your conclusion, so must the subhead entries under each Roman numeral support that particular argument. (usually by clarifying, explaining, or the citing of examples). Copy your thesis sentence word for word as the conclusion at the end of your outline. (this may seem a bit of an insult to your intelligence, but if your outline has gone astray you will find that your thesis sentence will no longer fit in the position it was originally created to occupy. Thus, but doing this you can sometimes save yourself time and wasted effort.)
- Are there any self-contradictory concepts in it?
- Is any of your material irrelevant?
- Does each argument follow logically from everything preceding it?
- Are there any gaps in your reasoning?
- Are there any terms which need to be defined?
- Have you made any dogmatic statements?
- Write the paper itself. About three fourths of your work should be done before you reach this step. If steps 1 to 5 are done well and carefully, the paper should just about write itself.
- References. Use the APA style for references (reproduced following this).
- Proofread your paper and do it at least twice before submitting – more times if possible. Do not rely on a spell checker.
- Never write anything which will be read by others unless you proofread it to the best of your ability. This is one rule that is rigidly observed by all mature scholars and authors who have been writing for years.) Proofread for thought and style, and again check the list in section V. Also, does your paper read smoothly and easily? (Read it out loud, if possible, and you will find out.) Proofread for mechanical errors. Check all questionable spellings. Check all the minimum standard requirements.
*Major portion of the above has been reproduced with permission from the Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario.
For further assistance:
Pre-Writing Tutorial and Quiz
The Writing Department – refer to P. 59
APA Style Guide
6th edition APA Publication Guid e ( WARNING : This sheet shows some common reference list entries in APA style. It does not cover every type of entry. The absolute authority for APA style is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Edition, available at most libraries or for purchase at most bookstores and the APA Website.)
Book with one author:[title in italics ]
Doe, J. (2002). Human study of inadequacy . Boston: Little, Brown.
Book with more than one author:[title in italics ]
- List all the authors – by last name & initials. Use & (not and ).
- If more than 6-authors, list the first 6, then et al. (Latin for and others ).
Spock, D. & Kirk, C. (2001). Outer space travel: facts and myths. Washington, DC: Outthere Publications.
Book with an editor:[title in italics ]
Gibbs, J.T. & Huang, L.N. (Eds.). (1991). Children of color: psychological interventions with minority youth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Book by an organization or group as author:[title in italics ]
When the author & the publisher are the same, list the word Author at the end of the citation.
American Bureau of Statistics. (2005). Census Bureau extrapolations for Tampa, Florida. Washington, DC: Author.
Encyclopedia or dictionary:[title in italics ]
Williams, B. (1990). Babylon. In The new grove dictionary of music and musicians (Vol. 33, pp.56-60). London: Macmillan.
An article in a scholarly journal:[journal title in italics ]
Jones, E. (2004). The mating habits of anorexic minnows. Journal of Creative Fish Watching, 60 , 534-544.
A magazine article:[journal title in italics ]
Density, A. & Manioto, C. (2003, January). How much does a beggar make? Psychology Tomorrow , 66 , 23-25.
A newspaper article with an author:[newspaper name in italics ]
Mullins, M.B. (2003, November 23). The health care crisis. The New York Times , pp. A3, A5.
A newspaper article without an author:[newspaper name in italics ]
Study finds less money for grades. (2005, September 19). Los Angeles Times , p. 14.
An Internet article based on a print source:[source name in italics ]
Wertheimer, R. (n.d.). Revisiting Florida’s chads, seeking lessons and jokes.[Electronic Version]. Journal of Voting . Retrieved September 15, 2005, from http://www.votingjournal.com
In the above example, no date was given in the work and (n.d.) is used.
An article in a searchable database:[source name in italics ]
Nosnoozy, D.R. (2002). Sleep is for sissies. Nation’s Business , 76 , 34-38. Retrieved November 25, 2005, from WilsonSelectPlus database.
A Web page:[title of Web page – if given – in italics ]
Do not underline Websites.
Sample Reference List
Doe, J. (2002). Human study of inadequacy. Boston: Little Brown.
McDuck, S. (2002). Psychology Web by Scrooge McDuck. Retrieved November 31, 2005, from http:www.quackpsych.com
Mullins, M.B. (2003, November 23). The health care crisis. The New York Times, pp.A3, A5.
Nosnoozy, D.R. (2002). Sleep is for sissies. Nation’s Business, 76 , 34-38. Retrieved November 25, 2005, from WilsonSelectPlus database.
Spock, D. & Kirk, C. (2001) Outer space travel: facts and myths. Washington, DC: Outthere Publications.
Please keep in mind that every period, every comma, every colon, and all other punctuation marks, italics , and indentations are very important! Be sure to include them.
Scholarships, Awards and Bursaries
Student Association of Health Management, Policy & Informatics
- Original article
- Open access
- Published: 01 May 2020
Reducing plagiarism through academic misconduct education
- Mike Perkins ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4479-4565 1 ,
- Ulas Basar Gezgin 2 &
- Jasper Roe 1
International Journal for Educational Integrity volume 16 , Article number: 3 ( 2020 ) Cite this article
Although there is much discussion exploring the potential causes of plagiarism, there is limited research available which provides evidence as to the academic interventions which may help reduce this. This paper discusses a bespoke English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme introduced at the university level, aimed at improving the academic writing standards of students, reducing plagiarism, and detecting cases of contract cheating. Results from 12 semesters of academic misconduct data ( n = 12,937) demonstrate a 37.01% reduction in instances of detected plagiarism following the intervention, but due to limited data, cannot demonstrate a direct impact on reducing detected rates of contract cheating. The results also show a lower than expected proportion of plagiarised assignments (3.46%) among submissions.
Academic dishonesty is not a new problem for higher education service providers. However, the rising availability of information sources which can easily be accessed by student writers, as well as essay-writing services heavily marketed towards university students, has led to an increase in discussions on this topic in both the media and academic journals. One way in which universities have attempted to monitor and control academic integrity is through the use of text matching software such as Turnitin. However, Turnitin and other software packages used to detect similarities between text submissions have been widely acknowledged as far from a perfect solution to ‘solve’ plagiarism (Heckler et al. 2012 ; McKeever 2006 ; Scheg 2012 ) as they do not inherently detect whether plagiarism has occurred.
Aside from cases of plagiarism that can be detected using text matching software, other, more subtle and difficult to detect forms of plagiarism such as contract cheating also need to be addressed. Throughout this paper, we use the term ‘contract cheating’ to refer to any form of plagiarism where a student has contracted another individual or organisation to carry out assessed work on their behalf.
Although student use of contract cheating services are not new (Lancaster and Culwin 2007 ) and prevalence of this behaviour is low (Rundle et al. 2019 ), they are becoming more visible, to the point where it is not uncommon to see these services advertised on social media. These services show evidence of being mature, well-established commercial operations, suggesting that there is a substantial demand feeding this supply (Ellis et al. 2018 ).
In this study, we present and discuss an intervention designed to improve the academic writing skills of students, reduce levels of plagiarism, and provide a tool to assist in the detection of contract cheating, by capturing a ‘fingerprint’ of a writing sample in an offshore international higher education service provider: British University Vietnam (BUV). BUV has operated in Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, since 2009. Although the faculty are entirely expatriate employees, almost all the students are Vietnamese, and therefore use English as their second or even third language. BUV faces the same problems as any other university with regards to plagiarism threats. However, due to the suggested negative relationship in the literature between English language ability and the propensity to commit plagiarism (Abasi and Graves 2008 ; Bretag 2007 ; Chen and Ku 2007 ; Goh 2015 ; Jones 2011 ; Li 2015 ; Marshall & Garry 2006 ; Perkins et al. 2018 ; Pennycook 1996 ; and Walker and White 2014 ), BUV must be more aware of the potential threats of plagiarism in its student body. In this paper we focus specifically on how the use of a bespoke English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme (referred to internally as the Academic English Masterclass) may improve the academic writing skills of students, assist in reducing overall plagiarism levels within BUV, and specifically, assist in the identification of cases of contract cheating. As proposed by Kakkonen and Mozgovoy et al. ( 2010 ), we demonstrate how a final exam for this programme may be used to help identify potential cases of contract cheating by providing ‘fingerprints’ of a writing style which may be checked for consistency against a piece of work submitted later.
Although there are multiple definitions and characterisations of plagiarism (see: Park 2004 ; Bennett et al. 2011 ; Mozgovoy et al. 2010 ), for the purpose of this paper, we refer to plagiarism as an act of submitting a document that belongs partially or completely to somebody else without due reference, and therefore misrepresents the effort that has been carried out by the submitting author. It is important to recognise that plagiarism can also occur unintentionally. We believe that the primary benefit of the initiative we present is that it has the potential to reduce instances of unintentional plagiarism by developing the academic skills of students, whilst also serving as a disincentive to the minority of students who seek to benefit by engaging in one or more deliberate forms of plagiarism discussed above. However, as the analysis presented in this paper uses institutional data on detected cases of plagiarism, we cannot differentiate between deliberate and accidental cases of plagiarism.
The reasons students engage in plagiarism has been well explored in numerous other papers, but as most students at BUV are Non-Native English Speakers (NNES), we wish to highlight the effect that low levels of English may have on incidences of plagiarism. This finding is supported by Bretag et al. ( 2018 ) who found that a factor influencing contract cheating prevalence was the use of a language other than English in students’ homes. Studies which have found a generally negative relationship between English language ability and plagiarism include Abasi and Graves ( 2008 ), Bretag ( 2007 ), Bretag et al. ( 2018 ), Chen and Ku ( 2007 ), Goh ( 2015 ), Jones ( 2011 ), Li ( 2015 ), Marshall and Garry ( 2006 ), Pennycook ( 1996 ), Perkins et al. ( 2018 ), and Walker and White ( 2014 ). However, many studies exploring this relationship are based on self-reported data from both students (Goh 2015 ; Jones 2011 ) and faculty (Abasi and Graves 2008 ; Bretag 2007 ; Li 2015 ; Walker and White 2014 ) which raise methodological concerns about the potential validity of this relationship.
In terms of interventions which may assist in combatting plagiarism, several options have been suggested in the relevant literature. These include an online academic integrity module (Belter and du Pré 2009 ; Curtis et al. 2013 ), a web-based module with a blended method on plagiarism (Stetter 2013 ), an online quiz through Blackboard (O'Donnell 2011 ), a plagiarism assignment (Davis 2011 ), an ethics-related module (Guo 2011 ), computer simulations and games as a preventative measure (Bradley 2015 ), marker training and the use of novel detection software, (Dawson et al. 2019 ; Dawson et al. 2019 ) and student plagiarism workshops (Chen and Van Ullen 2011 ; Hoanca 2019 ). Soto et al. ( 2004 ), and Levine and Pazdernik ( 2018 ) provide clear evidence of a reduction in plagiarism following a combination of initiatives, including structured educational modules, implementation of policies, increasing the difficulty of plagiarism by requiring students to submit drafts, and ensuring there are consequences of plagiarism. The fear of consequences arising from being caught committing plagiarism was also shown to be a strong deterrent to plagiarism by Bennett ( 2005 ). Amigud and Lancaster ( 2019 ) also identify that in some cases, familial involvement occurs in the process of purchasing contract cheating services, although it is not specified how this takes place. The authors suggest that ultimately, reducing contract cheating should focus on detection rather than attempting to stop it happening in the first place.
Proposals which have been suggested to specifically reduce contract cheating include: collecting writing samples from students (McLafferty and Foust 2004 ; Jones & Sheridan, 2014 ); setting assignments that specifically refer to lecture contents rather than generic essays (McLafferty and Foust 2004 ); improving the teaching and learning environment, including the relationship between staff and students and reducing the turnaround time of assessments (Wallace and Newton 2014 ); ‘designing out’ plagiarism (Fazel and Kowkabi 2014 ) by providing alternative forms of assessment such as exams, oral presentation (Lines 2016 ), internship experience and field trip-based reports, as part of a holistic assessment methodology (Goh 2015 ); and incorporating assessments that involve critical thinking and personal involvement with the course content (Carroll 2007 ; Heckler et al. 2012 ; McLafferty and Foust 2004 ; Probett 2011 ).
There is limited research in the field providing evidence of how contract cheating may be detected in the first place. Clarke and Lancaster ( 2007 ) present a ‘Six-Stage Contract Cheating Detection Process’ for identifying incidences of contract cheating in computer science assignments. However, this method relies on the availability of public information; in this case, ‘bids’ to an auction site. This ignores a common pathway of students obtaining papers from ‘essay mills’ or from advertisements on private social media groups. Morris ( 2018 ) on the other hand, suggests a more holistic model of five considerations for addressing contract cheating, including determining strategy, reviewing institutional policy, developing an understanding of students, edited and revisiting practices for assessment and including areas for staff professional development.
Koppel and Winter ( 2014 ) demonstrate how computational linguistic methods can be used to determine whether the author of two documents is the same. Although the results of their study indicate that this method has a good degree of accuracy in determining whether two documents were written by one author, it relies on having access to digital copies of all text being examined. This method is therefore unable to determine whether contract cheating has taken place, as it is not possible to analyse work from authors who are not in the existing database.
Clare et al. ( 2017 ) present a method of determining whether contract cheating may have occurred by examining whether unusual patterns exist between the grades received by students for unsupervised work compared to those for supervised work. This approach may be helpful to identify where further investigation could take place, but given the wide range of factors which could also influence differences in grades between different types of assessment (student preferences, differences in grading practices between markers, quantitative vs qualitative assessments, etc.), it cannot be relied upon by itself as a tool to identify contract cheating.
Dawson and Sutherland-Smith ( 2018 ) show that experienced markers were able to detect contract cheating 62% of the time in one experiment. However, these papers were all obtained from dedicated contract cheating websites which may be of varying quality, and the study only examined twenty papers from one course.
Harper et al. ( 2020 ) demonstrate that staff are generally skilled at detecting contract cheating rates for text-rich assessments, but this reported detection rate was lower for exam-based assessments as opposed to take-home assignments.
Although it is very easy for software solutions to identify text that is already present in its database, the ability of current software is not yet advanced enough to detect the complexities of contract cheating (Kakkonen and Mozgovoy 2010 ; Mozgovoy et al. 2010 ). As advances in technologies such as deep learning, neural networks, and quantum computing develop and become available for use in higher education, these difficulties may be eased. It is worth noting that new products from Turnitin such as Authorship Investigate have shown potential in identifying contract cheating cases (Dawson et al. 2019 ) although are not yet widely available. As software cannot adequately assist with detecting incidences of contract cheating, this is therefore left to faculty. However, studies such as Lines ( 2016 ) and Malesky et al. ( 2016 ) have shown how these contract cheating services can both be undetected by faculty (despite knowledge of their use) whilst also providing acceptable grades for the students engaging in these practices.
As there have been few reports of studies which have been specifically designed to both reduce plagiarism and identify potential cases of contract cheating, we contribute to the literature by detailing the methods which BUV have taken in order to resolve this problem, whilst at the same time increasing the academic writing capabilities of our students.
Language, plagiarism and context in British University Vietnam (BUV)
BUV is a private educational institution which began operations in 2009. BUV holds a unique position in Vietnam’s higher education system, as the only university to offer entirely British undergraduate programmes which are accredited by and offered in partnership with two UK universities. As of February 2020, BUV has approximately 700 students primarily studying degrees in Business and Management subjects.
The majority of BUV students are NNES and study a programme comprising two semesters of study per academic year. All students who begin a course of study must have achieved an English language proficiency score: either an official IELTS Band score of 6.0 with no sub-skill below 5.5, or an alternative English language qualification equivalent to this level.
BUV is in the process of undertaking rapid expansion and has recently relocated to a suburban campus with a capacity for over 7000 students. This dramatic increase in scale has the potential to give rise to new and increased risks for academic quality and reputation, and so it is imperative that appropriate measures are employed to safeguard the quality and rigour of the programmes offered during this period of growth and in the future. Consequently, the faculty of BUV has been working towards the development of an intervention to detect, reduce, and deter students from voluntarily or involuntarily participating in behaviours which would constitute plagiarism, whilst at the same time improving the key language and study skills required by students studying in an international educational setting.
Prior to the introduction of the BUV intervention in April 2016, faculty had identified that many students in their classes may benefit from additional support in developing their academic study skills. BUV had, by chance, also discovered some challenging cases of contract cheating and were also anecdotally aware that this was more common in the student body than previously thought. Due to the historical reliance in the institution on Turnitin as the key tool to identify instances of plagiarism, a new approach to managing the academic integrity of the university needed to be taken which could further improve the English language ability of students.
As any potential threats to the academic integrity of the BUV programmes need to be taken extremely seriously, and the potential benefits to the English language ability of students were clear, the introduction of an initiative to tackle both issues was required. The highly competitive market of private, international higher education in Vietnam also means that any additional benefits provided to students may act as market differentiators. By developing an initiative which could tackle both issues at BUV, and therefore increase the likelihood of students attaining good degrees, this would likely act as a potential selling point to the fee payers and decision makers (most often the parents of students). In this market, as in many others, a strong reputation is a key decision-making factor in the choice of universities. If there was a suggestion that the academic integrity of BUV was anything other than impeccable, this could cause significant problems with student recruitment, as well as damage our relationships with local and international stakeholders.
This intervention had to address several key concerns. Firstly, students had to be provided with additional academic English classes in order to attempt to reduce feelings of low confidence and improve their overall ability to write in English. Secondly, students also had to receive additional support in terms of time management and fostering motivation. An intervention had to provide a tangible, stringent method of detecting instances of contract cheating. Finally, the intervention had to specify the rules and codes of conduct relating to academic integrity expected in an international university environment, while being careful not to fall into the trap of assuming that Western academic values are a universal constant.
The intervention: Academic English Masterclass
Based upon the analysis presented above, BUV approved the creation of a standalone compulsory module for all undergraduate students, entitled Academic English Masterclass (AEM) which ran for the first time in April 2016.
The module consists of 2 hrs of class-based tuition per week for 12 weeks for all undergraduate students and culminates in a novel final exam, which functions as both a control and benchmark for students’ English writing ability as well as enabling fingerprinting of submitted work to be carried out.
The process of syllabus development was based on a needs analysis, as suggested by Nunan ( 1988 ), of a convenience sample of 30 students, targeting their ‘necessities, lacks, and wants’ (Nation and Macalister 2010 , p.25) and adapted for the East Asian context based on the research of Cai ( 2013 ). This was combined with informal one-to-one interviews with all 30 members of the sample group, and an initial diagnostic test in the form of a written essay. The needs analysis revealed that in terms of composition skills, students required the most assistance with essay planning, paraphrasing, referencing, and finding relevant sources of information. Many final year students admitted to plagiarising when they were unable to put ideas into their own words or were unable to identify the boundaries of utilising others’ material versus academic misconduct. This suggests that although first year students may require more focussed training on academic misconduct policy and basic EAP training, the requirements for final year students may be different. This insight was incorporated into the design of the course.
A final consideration in the design of the programme was the international context of BUV. Academic integrity is far from a universal concept and ignores the Eastern academic tradition of duplicating material as homage (Stowers and Hummel 2011 ). This is an important consideration in terms of understanding students’ interpretation of plagiarism, and it is possible that the view of reusing material in ‘homage’ is not seen by all students in this cultural context as a breach of academic integrity. However, research on this area is conflicted, and some authors suggest that plagiarism is more frequently linked to individual preference rather than cultural acceptability (Martin 2011 ). Regardless of this potential cultural paradigm clash, it remains important in this context that the AEM programme explicitly teaches and explains the underlying philosophical foundations of the British academic system, and the conventions that must be followed to avoid committing plagiarism.
The needs analysis led to the development of a multidimensional syllabus with the course goal of raising the awareness of acceptable practices surrounding plagiarism and academic misconduct, whilst at the same time, developing students’ researching and writing skills. This is tested by a final written assessment under exam conditions. Students are provided with a set of multiple-choice questions to assess knowledge about acceptable academic practices, and are also set a writing task. In this task they are given extended extracts from a variety of sources, including academic and non-academic sources of information with differing degrees of bias, and must tackle an essay question in which they utilise these sources. This procedure ensures that the essay written by the student (and subsequently used as a fingerprint) is entirely their own work, Footnote 1 and also provides them with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability in every facet of academic writing, including not only grammatical and lexical accuracy, but also the skills of paragraphing, paraphrasing, referencing, and critical thinking (as text extracts must be analysed for their impartiality). Alongside the original exam script is a companion piece, written by the marker, that contains several key points related to the writer’s ability, along with a band score of 1–9, which is developed based on a rubric and band score system of English proficiency. The rubric and band system scores students on grammatical accuracy, coherence, academic skills (referencing, paragraphing, and synthesis of material), and vocabulary. The marked sample is available for checking by faculty by the time students submit their summative assignments for their academic modules.
Markers must carry out a check using the writing sample on all high scoring assessments (papers scoring 70% and above), as well as a random selection of 10% of papers from each set of assessments, with a minimum sample size of six papers. Although all grading is carried out anonymously, once a paper has been graded, markers are permitted to use the student number to match up with the student name to aid in initial authorship investigation. All markers are trained how to perform these checks, and this process is discussed later in the paper.
Following the introduction of this intervention, all students were reminded of the dangers of plagiarism and new warnings were introduced to all assignment guidelines highlighting the severity of consequences if students were caught plagiarising. All students were made aware that their writing samples obtained during the AEM exam would be made available online for faculty and misconduct panels to check if there were any suspicions regarding their writing. New writing samples are obtained every semester from students, approximately 3 weeks before the assignment submission period begins in order to reduce the likelihood of significant changes being seen in the writing styles of students over time.
Methods and analysis of results
Data collection and screening.
If any student submission is flagged by a marker as a potential plagiarism or contract cheating case, a process is initiated by the faculty members which ends in the student being notified by the administration that that they are required to attend an informal meeting to discuss their work. Most cases of plagiarism are resolved at this stage and any penalties recorded. If, after this stage, there are concerns regarding potential contract cheating students are requested to attend an academic misconduct panel and participate in a viva voce of their submission in the presence of both a subject matter expert and a misconduct expert. Following the viva, if this panel has remaining suspicions of contract cheating, then the case is escalated to the most serious university panel for a meeting with the student. This panel will make the final decision as to whether contract cheating has occurred and will use a wide variety of sources of evidence in making its final decision. These include the writing samples obtained during the AEM exam, statements from relevant faculty, the previous marks obtained by the student, results from the initial viva and additional questions which the panel may put to the student. As the typical penalty for a student found to have utilised any contract cheating services is a failure of their award, it is the responsibility of the university to establish proof beyond reasonable doubt in these cases, and no decision is made solely on the basis of the comparison of the fingerprint with the submitted piece of work. The procedures used by BUV are set by the awarding body, and there is an appeal process available to the student.
In February 2020, we conducted an analysis of the plagiarism and contract cheating cases recorded during this process from the semesters of April 2014 through October 2019 to answer three questions:
What is the overall prevalence of plagiarism committed by students at BUV?
Has the AEM initiative been successful in reducing plagiarism cases?
Has the AEM initiative been successful in reducing detected incidences of contract cheating?
Before carrying out the analysis, the data was screened in the following way: Firstly, all recorded cases where a misconduct panel determined that no form of plagiarism had occurred in the flagged submission, and therefore gave a verdict of ‘no case to answer’, were removed. Any incidences where a verdict of ‘poor academic practice’ was given by the panel solely due to poor referencing practices were also excluded from the results. If one student had been punished for several plagiarism violations, each incident was counted separately.
The results of this analysis are shown in Table 1 .
Overall prevalence of plagiarism and contract cheating
From a total of 12,937 student submissions, analysis of the data revealed 448 plagiarism offences over the twelve-semesters between April 2014 and October 2019. The percentage of submissions found to have contained some element of plagiarism (excluding contract cheating cases) ranged between 2.35% and 7.08% each semester, with a mean percentage of 3.46% across the period of study. As the dataset covers multiple years, some incidences of plagiarism were from individual students who had committed plagiarism offences over multiple semesters.
With the caveat that it is possible that the study may underestimate plagiarism in the student body (as it would be unwise to believe that any higher education institution detects 100% of plagiarism cases), the first point to note is that the prevalence of detected plagiarised submissions is much lower than described in previous studies examining plagiarism data (as opposed to self-report studies). These studies have revealed mean rates of plagiarism of 26% ( n = 182 ) (Barret & Malcolm 2006 ), 26.2% ( n = 290 ) (Walker 2010 ), and 10.8% ( n = 74) (Warn 2007 ) respectively. Within a specifically Vietnamese context, Ba et al. ( 2016 ) found that 73% ( n = 681) of the submissions tested in their study had Turnitin similarity indexes of over 20%, and Tran et al. ( 2017 ) found that in their studies of two Vietnamese universities, there were plagiarism levels (defined by similarity indexes over 24%) of 91.7% and 61.7%. Footnote 2 Our study differs from those cited above due to the longitudinal aspects of the data collection period, meaning that a much larger sample has been obtained for analysis.
The results may indicate that BUV students demonstrate a lower predilection towards plagiarism than the norm, however, they are more likely explained by the large sample utilised in the study. Even though faculty (Andrews et al. 2007 ) and students (Scanlon and Neumann 2002 ) alike may consider plagiarism to be a significant problem in their institutions, our results demonstrate that a quantitative analysis of a larger data sample could reveal a lesser problem than initially imagined. Despite the professed increased propensity of non-native English speaking ‘International’ students to commit plagiarism (Walker 2010 ), the low levels of plagiarism indicated in the set of submissions (even though almost all submitting students are NNES) indicates that this suggestion is not universally accurate, a viewpoint echoed by Soto et al. ( 2004 ).
Identified levels of contract cheating were overall very low, with a total number of 19 cases over the period, ranging from 0% to 0.94% of submissions per semester, with a mean percentage of 0.15% of the total number of submissions in the time period. This prevalence rate is significantly lower than the figures reported by Curtis and Clare et al. ( 2017 ), of 3.5% of students (not submissions) having committed these offences, and by Harper et al. ( 2020 ) of 2.6%. However, as contract cheating cases are more difficult to detect than more ‘traditional’ plagiarism offences (whether intentional or unintentional), we recognise that the detected cases are unlikely to be fully representative of the actual levels of contract cheating in the student body.
Effectiveness of the AEM in reducing plagiarism
Prior to the introduction of the AEM intervention in the April 2016 semester, the mean percentage of submissions found to contain plagiarism was 4.81% ( n = 3137) Following the introduction of the intervention, the mean percentage of submissions found to contain plagiarism dropped to 3.03% ( n = 9800); a 37.01% decrease from the results prior to the intervention. Although the rates of plagiarism were already low prior to the introduction of the AEM, the further reduction in plagiarism demonstrates that the intervention has achieved one of its stated aims of educating students about appropriate academic standards and reducing levels of plagiarism. These findings are in line with those of Soto et al. ( 2004 ), and Levine and Pazdernik ( 2018 ), demonstrating that training programmes such as the AEM may help reduce plagiarism.
Effectiveness of the AEM in reducing contract cheating
With regards to the prevalence of contract cheating before and after the AEM intervention, the results do show a reduction in the percentage of contract cheating cases detected, from 0.35% of submissions, to 0.08% of submissions, a 77.14% decrease. With the assumption that the decrease in identified cases is not due to any decrease in the ability of markers to detect these (given the additional training that occurred), this apparent reduction in contract cheating may be due to several factors or a combination of these factors. Firstly, an improvement in student knowledge of appropriate academic standards may have increased the awareness of what is expected of them in a university setting. Secondly, knowing that there will be increased scrutiny of their submissions regarding contract cheating, and the knowledge that samples of their work are available for checking may have increased the perceived risk of contract cheating. Thirdly, any reduction may be due to real improvements in the EAP abilities of the students. As the English language ability of students has been shown to be linked to plagiarism, the increased EAP skills of the students may have reduced the perceived need to obtain contract cheating services.
However, the relative rarity of contract cheating as a percentage of submissions, and the very small total number of cases over the entire period of investigation do not allow us to make any firm conclusions as to the effectiveness of this intervention on the reduction of detected cases of contract cheating. The relatively large number of cases identified in the October 2015 semester compared to other semesters, and the limited periods of data collection prior to the introduction of the intervention have likely made a comparison of contract cheating data before and after the intervention untenable.
Despite this, we believe that continuing with this initiative is important. By continuing to educate students in academic writing skills and expected academic practice, as well as establishing a protocol of collecting and checking student writing samples, we can reduce plagiarism, provide a disincentive for students who may seek to engage in contract cheating, and obtain a valuable data source for the further investigation of any such detected cases.
Although the preliminary results of this intervention are promising, any benefits of an intervention such as the AEM must be considered alongside an understanding of the numerous challenges of any intervention involving the collection and comparison of student writing samples.
Firstly, faculty carrying out marking of assessments must know which submissions are suspicious, and therefore warrant checking against the student fingerprints. In order to do this on an ad-hoc basis, some prior expectations as to the quality of the submitted work must be held. Although some faculty may be aware of the general quality of work they are expecting from a set of assignment submissions, the use of anonymous marking means that as long as the quality of work is generally in line with the entire cohort, markers may not necessarily detect a clear difference between contracted and legitimate assignments. As the size of student cohorts increases, this leads to a wider spread of both marks and writing styles being expected, and the likelihood of faculty having initial suspicions is further reduced, therefore compounding this problem. For institutions which have a high concentration of NNES, an additional challenge which may be encountered is that of fellow NNES students being hired for contract cheating, as opposed to ‘professional’ native English speaking contract cheating services. This sub-type of contract cheating may be more appealing to some students, as fellow NNES students may have similar writing styles and have completed the same, or similar classes. This means that the differences between these submissions and fingerprinted work may not be as apparent when compared to the results obtained from professional contract cheating websites.
Secondly, faculty may not always accurately detect cases of contract cheatings, even if a submission is checked for consistency against the fingerprinted sample. Markers will likely have differing skill levels in their ability to accurately detect differences in writing styles between a submission and a fingerprint and some cases may be missed. Therefore, any institution considering the introduction of fingerprinting must be aware of the potential increase in false negatives occurring due to some submissions not being investigated appropriately and implement training programmes to address this. This method also does not address cases where a writing sample would not be helpful in determining authorship of an assessment, such as computer coding or artwork.
Conversely, the potential risk of false positives must also be considered. If faculty members flag a submission as a possible case of contract cheating due to a change in writing styles between a fingerprint and a submitted assignment, there must be a fair and consistent approach to investigating these cases fully. Markers must also be aware that improvements in English language abilities and writing styles are likely to be seen when comparing what can be produced under timed, exam conditions, compared to a take-home assignment, as students will have had time to proofread, plan, edit, and check their final submission.
Research by Dawson et al. ( 2019 ) has indicated that the training of markers can improve their ability to identify contract cheating, therefore to minimise the problems stated above, all faculty members receive training on how to assess work for potential cases of contract cheating, and assessments are only graded by faculty who have completed this training. When checking for potential evidence of contract cheating, markers are asked to investigate several things. The initial step is an overall comparison of the student’s writing in the unsupervised, external assessment with the sample produced under exam conditions. If a student produced a flawless submission in adherence to all academic standards, but during the AEM written exam had received a low score in this area, or the overall standards of English were very different, this might indicate a second or alternate author.
Other techniques based on forensic linguistics are also used. These include comparing the submission with the sample to see if there are mismatches between the writer’s unique choice of words and individual style of writing (idiolect), and their tendency to use certain constructions (coselection and lexical choice) (Coulthard, 2010 ).
Markers are also trained to identify other potential indicators of contract cheating, either of the whole document, or of partial sections. These indicators include changes in formatting or styles of writing in different sections of the text, as well as examining the document properties for any suspicious elements such as very short editing times (indicative of content being copied into a brand new document before submission), or whether there are inconsistences in the named author of the document. Even the choice of sources used or not used in a submission could raise suspicions: for example, not citing key sources indicated during class sessions. By training all markers how to check for contract cheating, making comparisons between the sample and submissions part of the marking procedure, and carrying this procedure out on a regular basis, it is our hope that we can improve the capacity of markers to identify instances of contract cheating.
Although individually none of the above indicators would ever be considered conclusive evidence of contract cheating, and the fingerprinting method has significant limitations as discussed, all the above can be employed by a panel investigating whether academic misconduct may have occurred.
Reducing and detecting plagiarism and contract cheating requires a holistic approach to be taken (McCabe 2005 ; Morris 2018 ). We believe that initiatives such as the AEM programme which aim to improve the English capabilities of students, educate them on expected academic conduct practices, and discourage contract cheating fit this definition, and our results demonstrate how doing so may assist with this goal.
This paper has discussed the introduction of an intervention designed to improve the academic writing skills of students, reduce levels of plagiarism, and provide a tool to assist in the detection of contract cheating by capturing a ‘fingerprint’ of a writing sample.
The data collected over the course of 12 semesters show a 37.01% decrease in the rate of detected plagiarism following the introduction of the AEM intervention, and suggest that the introduction of a programme like this could help institutions with reducing plagiarism.
The levels of detected contract cheating cases did decrease following the introduction of the intervention, however, the very small numbers of detected contract cheating cases both pre and post intervention mean that we cannot make a conclusion regarding the use of collecting writing samples as an effective tool to help detect these cases. We have recognised the limitations of this fingerprinting exercise and suggested potential mitigations to these through faculty training.
Despite using a large database of student submissions ( n = 12,937), the data shows surprisingly low levels (3.36%) of detected plagiarism overall, which do not match the high prevalence of plagiarism that has previously been recorded in the literature, however, by analysing detected cases of plagiarism data as opposed to student self-reported data, it is possible that this study may have underestimated plagiarism in the student body. Previous studies have used much smaller samples of student submissions in their analysis, which suggests that different results may be obtained when examining larger sets of data. We therefore recommend that further research should try to use longitudinal university or department wide databases for analysis purposes, as opposed to individual class submissions, as this may give a more accurate representation of the prevalence of plagiarism in an institution.
The issue of academic misconduct is becoming increasingly more visible to the general public. In the United Kingdom, 40 university leaders have written to the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation demanding a ban on companies offering contract cheating services (BBC News 2020 ), and the Advertising Standards Authority has already banned misleading advertisements from one of these companies (Advertising Standards Agency, 2019 ). We recognise that the costs required for an intervention strategy such as the AEM may pose a barrier to entry for many institutions, but given the increasing focus on academic integrity, this is not an issue that universities can afford to ignore. We therefore recommend the use of similar initiatives in other institutions as a potential method to educate students about expected academic practice, reduce plagiarism, and believe the potential benefits justify the challenges of introducing such an initiative.
Bretag et al. ( 2018 ) demonstrate the widespread nature of cheating in university exams and Harper et al. (2020) demonstrate the lack of ability of markers to detect this, which raises a question regarding this statement. However, given the relatively low stakes of this particular assessment, and that it is the writing style of the student that we are most interested in as opposed to the content , we believe this to not be of major concern.
The authors of these papers suggest that this equates to a high probability of plagiarism having occurred, however text matching software such as Turnitin does not identify plagiarism, it simply identifies similarities in documents which may indicate that plagiarism has occurred in some form. Just because there is a high degree of similarity identified, does not necessarily mean that an author has engaged in plagiarism. This may occur in cases where students have submitted improved versions of papers as part of a continuous assessment initiative.
Academic English Masterclass
British University Vietnam
English for Academic Purposes
Non-Native English speaker
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Perkins, M., Gezgin, U.B. & Roe, J. Reducing plagiarism through academic misconduct education. Int J Educ Integr 16 , 3 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-020-00052-8
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The relationship between possession of one's authentic voice when writing at the university level and academic integrity is one of cause and effect because the latter could only be achieved through the former. Finding one's authentic voice at the university level is critical because it is the foundation of one's success not only in their future career but in general. But what is exactly one's authentic voice? Dennis Merrit Jones wrote: "Authentic voice is the outward creative expression that rises from the authentic self, the sacred being we were (and still are) at the moment of birth; it is that place within us where the infinite intelligence of life has personalized itself, and its sole/soul desire is to push out and express itself in a multitude of unique ways. Every human being is a creative vessel through which this happens ". While studying at university, students get the opportunity to find that voice and express themselves, their ideas and opinions, be original and creative, challenge their minds, ask questions and find answers, to think and reason and create their path towards their success rather than following other's footsteps and getting nothing in the result. This is an excellent opportunity for everybody to find who they are as an individual, what uniqueness they have, what they are capable of and what they are good at, but many students decide to cheat and plagiarize destroying all the opportunities that they are granted with. They become copycats and master their dishonest behavior instead of mastering their skills and becoming the person they were meant to be. There is no doubt that cheating and academic dishonesty have been increasing these past years. With the innovation of computers and the internet, it has become very easy to cheat and not get caught in the process. Researchers report that approximately 40% to 90% of college students admit to cheating.
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AI and Academic Integrity: Preventing Essay Cheating
- August 8, 2023
Table of Contents
In today’s digital age, artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized various industries, including education. AI-powered writing tools have become increasingly popular, offering students assistance in their essay writing endeavors. However, the rise of these tools has raised concerns about academic integrity and the potential for essay cheating. In this blog, we will explore the impact of AI on academic integrity, delve into the dark side of essay cheating with AI, discuss strategies to uphold academic integrity, and promote responsible use of AI in education.
Understanding AI-Powered Writing Tools
Artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed various aspects of our lives, and one area where its impact is particularly evident is in the field of writing. AI-powered writing tools have gained popularity, offering students assistance in their essay writing endeavors. To fully appreciate the implications of these tools, it is important to understand their capabilities and how they have revolutionized the writing process.
AI-powered writing tools utilize sophisticated algorithms and machine learning techniques to analyze vast amounts of data. These tools are typically trained on extensive datasets, including books, articles, and other written content, enabling them to understand the patterns, structures, and language used in writing.
One of the primary features of AI-powered writing tools is their ability to provide grammar and spelling checks. These tools can automatically detect and highlight errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, allowing students to correct mistakes and improve the overall accuracy of their writing. By leveraging AI in this aspect, students can save time and effort in proofreading their work.
In addition to grammar and spelling checks, AI-powered tools can also assist in enhancing the overall clarity and coherence of the writing. They can analyze sentence structure, suggesting improvements to ensure that ideas are effectively communicated and logically connected. This feature helps students refine their writing style, making their essays more readable and impactful.
Another valuable aspect of AI-powered writing tools is their ability to enhance vocabulary and word choice. These tools can offer synonyms, antonyms, and context-specific recommendations, allowing students to elevate their language and use more precise and engaging words. By expanding their vocabulary and refining their word choice, students can create more compelling and sophisticated essays.
Furthermore, AI-powered writing tools can provide inspiration and generate ideas for students who may be struggling with writer’s block or looking for new angles for their essays. These tools can offer topic suggestions, prompts, and even examples of well-written essays, helping students kick-start their writing process and explore different approaches to their topics.
It is important to note that while AI-powered writing tools offer significant benefits, they are not a substitute for genuine human effort and creativity. Students should use these tools as aids to enhance their writing skills rather than relying on them entirely. It is crucial for students to retain ownership of their essays and ensure that their personal voice, experiences, and ideas shine through.
AI-powered writing tools have transformed the way we approach essay writing. By offering grammar and spelling checks, improving sentence structure and coherence, enhancing vocabulary and word choice, and providing inspiration and ideas, these tools have become valuable assets for students. By understanding the capabilities of AI-powered writing tools and utilizing them effectively, students can streamline their writing process, improve the quality of their essays, and become more proficient writers.
The Dark Side: Essay Cheating with AI
AI-powered writing tools offer numerous advantages in essay writing, but their rise has also brought forth ethical concerns regarding academic integrity. The seamless integration of AI-generated text with human-written content has opened the door to potential essay cheating. Here are the key points to consider regarding the dark side of essay cheating with AI:
- Temptation for Academic Dishonesty: AI-powered writing tools provide an easy way for students to cheat on their essays. The accessibility and convenience of these tools may tempt students to misuse them by generating entire essays or plagiarizing content without proper attribution.
- Difficulty in Detection: The integration of AI-generated text with human-written content poses a significant challenge for educators and plagiarism detection systems. The sophisticated algorithms used by AI tools can create text that closely mimics human writing, making it harder to identify instances of essay cheating.
- Plagiarism without Attribution: AI-powered writing tools can generate text that resembles existing sources, leading to unintentional plagiarism if not properly attributed. Students may unknowingly submit essays with sections that closely match existing works without citing the original sources.
- Lack of Personal Voice and Authenticity: AI-generated essays lack the personal voice, experiences, and authenticity that admissions officers and educators value. These essays may lack the personal touch and genuine reflection that is expected from students’ own work.
- Risk of Academic Consequences: Engaging in essay cheating with AI can have severe consequences for students. Educational institutions consider academic dishonesty a serious offense, which may result in penalties such as failing grades, academic probation, or even expulsion.
- Undermining the Education System: Essay cheating with AI undermines the fundamental principles of education, including critical thinking, creativity, and the development of writing skills. It devalues the efforts of hardworking students who invest time and effort into crafting their own essays.
- Ethical Implications: Using AI-powered tools to cheat on essays raises ethical concerns. It goes against the principles of academic integrity, honesty, and fairness. Students must consider the ethical implications of essay cheating and the long-term consequences it may have on their academic and professional journeys.
- Misrepresentation of Skills and Abilities: Essay cheating with AI leads to a misrepresentation of students’ skills and abilities. Admissions officers, employers, and educators rely on essays to assess a student’s writing proficiency, critical thinking skills, and ability to express themselves. Cheating undermines the trust and confidence placed in these assessments.
- Diminished Learning Opportunities: The act of cheating deprives students of valuable learning opportunities. Writing essays helps students develop research skills, critical analysis, and effective communication. By relying on AI to generate essays, students miss out on the growth and development that comes from engaging in the writing process.
- Long-Term Consequences: Essay cheating can have long-term consequences beyond the immediate academic repercussions. It can damage students’ reputation, erode their integrity, and hinder their personal and professional growth. The habits and mindset developed through cheating can carry over into future endeavors, impacting their ethical decision-making.
It is crucial for students to understand the ethical implications and consequences of essay cheating with AI. Academic integrity should be prioritized, and students should strive to develop their own writing skills, express their unique perspectives, and embrace the personal growth that comes from genuine effort and reflection. Educators and institutions play a vital role in raising awareness, implementing robust detection measures, and fostering a culture that upholds academic integrity and ethical conduct.
Upholding Academic Integrity
Academic integrity is the cornerstone of education, promoting honesty, credibility, and fairness. Upholding academic integrity is crucial to maintain the integrity of educational institutions and ensure a level playing field for all students. Here are key points to consider regarding the strategies and measures for upholding academic integrity:
Educational institutions play a vital role in promoting awareness of academic integrity among students. They should provide clear guidelines and policies regarding academic honesty, plagiarism, and the use of AI-powered writing tools. Workshops, seminars, and educational campaigns can be organized to educate students about the importance of academic integrity and the consequences of academic dishonesty.
Robust Plagiarism Detection
Implementing robust plagiarism detection systems is essential to identify instances of essay cheating. These systems should be capable of detecting not only direct plagiarism but also instances where AI-generated text is seamlessly integrated with human-written content. Regular checks and random sampling can help deter students from engaging in academic dishonesty.
Academic Honor Codes
Developing and enforcing academic honor codes can significantly contribute to upholding academic integrity. These codes establish a clear set of expectations and standards for students’ academic conduct. By requiring students to sign honor pledges and acknowledging their commitment to academic integrity, educational institutions foster a culture of trust and ethical behavior.
Incorporating individualized assessments can help prevent essay cheating. Assignments that require students to reflect on personal experiences, analyze case studies, or apply critical thinking skills promote originality and discourage the use of AI-generated content. By focusing on students’ unique perspectives and abilities, educators can create assessments that encourage authentic engagement.
Emphasizing Writing Process and Development
Educators should place greater emphasis on the writing process itself rather than solely focusing on the final product. By assigning incremental tasks such as outlines, drafts, and revisions, educators can assess students’ progress and offer guidance throughout the writing process. This approach encourages students to engage actively with their assignments, reducing the temptation to cheat.
Encouraging Academic Dialogue
Facilitating open discussions about academic integrity and ethical conduct encourages students to reflect on the importance of honesty and integrity in their academic journey. By fostering an environment where students feel comfortable discussing academic challenges and seeking assistance when needed, educators can minimize the perceived need for essay cheating with AI.
Personalized Feedback and Assessment
Providing personalized feedback on students’ writing assignments can foster a sense of ownership and accountability. By highlighting areas for improvement and offering guidance for future growth, educators can support students in developing their writing skills. This personalized feedback helps students recognize their progress, reinforcing the value of their individual efforts.
Academic Support Services
Educational institutions should provide readily accessible academic support services to assist students in improving their writing skills. Writing centers, tutoring programs, and workshops can offer guidance on effective writing techniques, research methodologies, and citation practices. These resources empower students to develop their writing abilities and reduce the temptation to rely on AI-generated content.
Collaboration with AI Developers
Collaboration between educational institutions and AI developers is crucial to establish ethical guidelines for AI-powered writing tools. By working together, educators and developers can design tools that prioritize academic integrity, promote responsible use, and integrate features that encourage critical thinking, creativity, and originality.
Also read: Oxford Said MIF Program: Complete Overview
Encouraging Ethical Decision-Making
Educators should foster an environment that encourages ethical decision-making and academic integrity. By highlighting real-world consequences of academic dishonesty and discussing case studies, educators can stimulate critical discussions around ethical dilemmas and equip students with the tools to make ethical choices in their academic pursuits.
In conclusion, upholding academic integrity is essential to maintain the credibility and fairness of the education system. By promoting awareness, implementing robust plagiarism detection, emphasizing the writing process, encouraging academic dialogue, and providing personalized feedback and
Promoting Responsible Use of AI in Education
As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to advance, its integration into education brings forth both opportunities and challenges. To ensure the responsible use of AI in education, it is crucial to establish guidelines and promote ethical practices. Here are key points to consider for promoting responsible use of AI in education:
- Transparent Disclosure: AI tool providers should be transparent about the capabilities and limitations of their AI-powered writing tools. Clear and concise information should be provided to students regarding the use of AI in the writing process, highlighting that AI should be used as an aid and not a replacement for their own efforts.
- Education on AI and Ethics: Integrating AI education into curricula can help students understand the capabilities, potential biases, and ethical considerations surrounding AI. By fostering a deeper understanding of AI, students can make informed decisions about its responsible and ethical use in their academic work.
- Establishing Ethical Guidelines: Collaboration between educators, institutions, and AI developers is essential in establishing ethical guidelines for the use of AI in education. These guidelines should address issues such as plagiarism, proper citation, and the responsible integration of AI-generated content into students’ work.
- Emphasizing Critical Thinking: AI-powered writing tools should be designed to prioritize critical thinking skills rather than solely focusing on generating content. Students should be encouraged to engage with AI-generated suggestions critically, evaluating their relevance, accuracy, and appropriateness in the context of their own ideas and arguments.
- Encouraging Originality: Students should be reminded of the value of originality in their work. They should be encouraged to express their unique perspectives, develop their own ideas, and foster creativity in their writing. AI tools can support this process by providing guidance and suggestions that enhance students’ own thinking rather than overshadowing it.
- Responsible Citation Practices: AI tools can assist students in improving their citation practices. Educators should emphasize the importance of proper attribution and teach students how to integrate AI-generated content into their essays while giving credit to the original sources. This ensures academic honesty and avoids unintentional plagiarism.
- Continuous Evaluation and Improvement: Educational institutions should continuously evaluate the impact and effectiveness of AI-powered writing tools in promoting responsible use. Feedback from students and educators can help identify areas for improvement and refine the tools’ features to align with ethical standards.
- Encouraging Student Empowerment: Students should be empowered to take ownership of their academic work and utilize AI tools as aids in their learning journey. They should be encouraged to leverage AI-powered writing tools as tools for self-improvement, learning, and expanding their skills, rather than relying on them as shortcuts.
- Ethical Decision-Making Discussions: Engaging students in discussions and case studies on ethical decision-making can enhance their understanding of the potential consequences of unethical use of AI. These discussions should focus on the impact of AI on academic integrity, intellectual property, and the responsible use of technology in education.
- Role of Educators: Educators play a vital role in promoting responsible AI use. They should guide students on how to leverage AI tools effectively, encourage critical thinking, and provide guidance on ethical considerations. By fostering open dialogue and offering support, educators can help students navigate the complexities of AI and ensure its responsible integration into their academic work.
Promoting responsible use of AI in education requires a collaborative effort between educators, institutions, AI developers, and students. By establishing transparent guidelines, emphasizing critical thinking, encouraging originality, and providing education on AI ethics, we can harness the potential of AI tools while ensuring ethical and responsible practices in education. With responsible use, AI can serve as a valuable aid in enhancing students’ learning experiences and supporting their academic growth.
Balancing AI Assistance and Academic Integrity
As AI-powered writing tools become increasingly prevalent in education, it is essential to strike a balance between utilizing AI assistance and upholding academic integrity. Here are key points to consider when navigating the fine line between AI assistance and academic integrity:
- Understanding the Purpose: It is crucial to understand that AI tools should serve as aids, not replacements, for students’ efforts. Students should utilize AI assistance to enhance their writing skills, gather ideas, and improve their work, rather than relying solely on AI-generated content.
- Promoting Critical Thinking: Emphasize the importance of critical thinking skills in the writing process. Encourage students to critically evaluate the suggestions and recommendations provided by AI tools, ensuring that they align with their own ideas and arguments. This helps maintain the authenticity and originality of their work.
- Transparent Use of AI: Educate students on the responsible use of AI tools and the potential implications for academic integrity. Emphasize the importance of understanding and adhering to ethical guidelines, proper citation practices, and the distinction between AI-generated content and their own ideas.
- Encouraging Personalization: Students should personalize their work by incorporating their unique perspectives, experiences, and insights. AI tools can assist in refining their writing, but the final output should reflect the student’s voice and demonstrate their individual growth and development.
- Educating on Plagiarism: Clearly define plagiarism and its consequences, including unintentional plagiarism that may arise from improperly attributing AI-generated content. Teach students how to properly cite sources, including AI-generated suggestions, to ensure academic honesty and integrity.
- Regular Assessments and Feedback: Incorporate regular assessments and personalized feedback to evaluate students’ progress. This provides opportunities for educators to identify instances of potential academic dishonesty, guide students in refining their writing skills, and reinforce the importance of independent effort.
- Integration of Writing Process: Emphasize the importance of the writing process itself, encouraging students to engage in brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revising. By focusing on the iterative nature of writing, students develop their own ideas and refine their work, reducing the reliance on AI-generated content.
- Continuous Improvement of AI Tools: Collaborate with AI developers to continuously improve AI tools to align with ethical standards and educational needs. Feedback from educators and students can inform the refinement of AI algorithms, ensuring that the tools enhance the writing process without compromising academic integrity.
- Promoting Ethical Discussions: Foster open discussions on the ethical implications of AI assistance in education. Encourage students to reflect on the benefits and challenges of using AI tools, promoting a deeper understanding of academic integrity and responsible use of technology.
- Cultivating Ethical Mindsets: Ultimately, the goal is to cultivate ethical mindsets among students. By instilling values such as integrity, honesty, and academic rigor, students are more likely to utilize AI tools responsibly and understand the importance of maintaining academic integrity throughout their educational journey.
Balancing AI assistance and academic integrity requires a proactive approach from educators and students. By promoting critical thinking, transparency, personalized writing, and ethical discussions, we can harness the benefits of AI tools while upholding the principles of academic integrity. The responsible use of AI in education can empower students, enhance their writing skills, and prepare them for future academic and professional endeavors.
AI has undoubtedly transformed essay writing, offering students valuable assistance and improving efficiency. However, it is imperative to address the ethical concerns surrounding AI and academic integrity. By implementing strategies to uphold academic integrity, promoting responsible use of AI in education, and striking a balance between AI assistance and academic integrity, we can navigate the evolving landscape of AI-powered writing tools while preserving the integrity of the education system. Together, educators, students, and AI developers can foster an environment where AI supports learning, promotes creativity, and upholds academic integrity.
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